1 Nov 1997
The Type-Four based Saab 9000 was replaced by the 9-5, which not only introduced the Swedish company’s current naming policy but also followed the smaller 900 MK2 in being based on General Motors’ mid-sized front-wheel drive J-car (Holden JR/S Vectra) platform, albeit significantly altered for this application.
Sitting on a 2703mm wheelbase (31mm up on the 9000), the 9-5 was bigger, stronger, safer and more refined than its aged predecessor.
Saab said that the cavernous 9-5 Estate (wagon) was developed in tandem with the sedan.
Initially two models were released in S and SE guises powered by a 125kW/280Nm 2.3-litre DOHC 16V low-blow turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
When the wagon came on stream during May ’99 Saab introduced a new base model known as the 9-5 2.0 for its new 110kW/240Nm 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder engine.
There were also minor suspension and specification updates.
In early 2000 the 9-5 Aero sedan and wagon appeared in 169kW/330Nm 2.3-litre high-pressure turbo four-cylinder engine mode, boasting plenty of extras and a sporty body kit.
The only 9-5 V6 was the range-topping 147kW/310Nm 3.0-litre DOHC 24V Griffin sedan from March ’99 to October ’01.
In early ’01 the 9-5 S and SE models gained a 136kW/280Nm 2.3 low-blow turbo motor. All motors bar the auto-only Griffin offered a four-speed auto or five-speed manual gearbox.